The problem of the development of autism in children is a serious challenges to parents who are unprepared for the treatment of such a mental health problem their children can acquire. In such a situation, they often attempt to find causes of the illness their children suffer from, but, being uninformed on the essence of autism and the mechanism and causes of its development, parents often tend to slip to biases and prejudices which shape their view on causes of the mental health disorder in their children. As a result, they shape a biased and erroneous view not only on causes of the mental health problem, such as autism, but they can also develop erroneous views on the treatment of this disorder. In this respect, one of the most widely spread biases concerning autism is a strong belief that autism develops under the impact or in the result of the injection of vaccines children get at the beginning of their life within the post-natal period.
On analyzing the essence of the bias concerning the development of such a mental health problem as autism in small children, it should be said that the formation of such a biased view on causes of autism determined by several factors. First of all, it is important to stress the incompetence of parents in regard to autism. In fact, there are few parents who do know and are well informed on autism before their child falls ill. Naturally, the lack of information on the illness and its causes provokes parents to make their own presuppositions and assumptions which have nothing or little in common with the real life. As a result, they can blame health care professionals and vaccines which they believed have caused the development of autism in their children.
At this point, it should be said that the reasons for such accusations of health care professionals and vaccines mainly lie in the psychological domain. Practically all parents are convinced that their children are born healthy a priori. Hence, they do not believe that the illness can develop in a natural way or under the impact of hereditary factors. Instead, they associate medical interference, such as vaccine injections, as unnecessary and harmful interference because it is unnatural and, at the subconscious level, parents perceive any manipulations with their children made by other people as potentially harmful. In addition, parents can be poorly informed and they believe that vaccines can be harmful because parents know about the possibility of side-effects of different vaccines. Consequently, they naturally believe that vaccines could provoke autism in their children.
In this respect, the recent case of Hannah Poling, a 9 year-old girl suffering from autism, is particularly noteworthy because parents were and still are convinced that their daughter suffers from autism because of the injections of vaccines made at the beginning of Hannah’s life (Vaccine Case, 2008). It should be said that the illness has started to progress since the second year of the life of the girl and parents believed that vaccines provoked this illness. However, on analyzing their arguments supporting their position concerning the interdependence between autism and vaccines, it turns out that the major argument in favor of this bias is the fact that the government has paid off the compensation to them which are normally paid to people who suffered from injuries caused by vaccines. Hence, this governmental decision was interpreted as evidence of negative effects of vaccines on the health of Hannah.
At the same time, it should be said that the article “Vaccine Case Draws New Attention to Autism Debate”¯ presenting the story of Hannah Poling, presents the position of public health officials who actually denied the possibility of the development of autism because of vaccines. However, the position of public health officials does not change the mind of parents because other officials have already provided them with the compensation for the injection-related injuries.
In such a situation, it is necessary to refer to scientific researches concerning the possible impact of vaccines on the development of autism, conducted by different researches and presented by the Autism Information Center of the Centers for Decease Control and Prevention. In fact, the Autism Information Center informs the public about the existence of bias concerning the interdependence of autism and vaccines.
However, the officials argue that this bias does not have any scientific ground. To prove their position, the officials provide the public with the outcomes of numerous studies which have been conducted since 2002 by different specialists in different locations. However, the outcomes of all the researches arrive basically to one and the same conclusion that vaccines cannot cause autism. In this respect, it is necessary to lay emphasis on the fact that autism has a strong genetic basis (Abrahams and Geschwind, 2008). Therefore, it can be inherited by a child from their parents, grandparents, etc.
Thus, in conclusion, it should be said that the bias concerning the negative effect of vaccines on the mental health of children, including development of autism, is unreasoned and it is not supported by scientific evidences. Instead, it is grounded on indirect evidences.